I’ve just been to see the amazing Trinity College Cambridge, partly for a nose at all the work they’re doing and to also talk about the Fit for the Future Network (they are facing similar challenges to other members and I am keen to link them all up and see how they can help each other out – or just have a collective moan!).
Trinity are about 15 years into a 30 year improvement programme for the New Court (built in 1835 and one of the main areas of student accommodation) and Dr Pullen, the Junior Bursar, has been spearheading an ambitious project which will renovate all of the student ‘gyp houses’ into something more habitable and similar to how they originally were, but one which will also cut CO2 emissions by a whopping 80% in the process.
It’s a massive project which has already taken a lot of time and money, and as Dr Pullen says, it will no means make it the blueprint for other projects (as there is no one size fits all), but they will be able to share with others the processes involved and some other key insights – for instance the importance of collecting good data from monitoring and modelling the building before applying for listed building consent, or the usefulness of having a life-size mock up ‘gyp house’ to get planners and staff on board with the process.
What’s impressive is that throughout the design phases they consulted with students and used their feedback to make adjustments to the designs – going back to that same old lesson again which keep cropping up – when designing a building, always do it with the occupants in mind and on side – after all it’s going to be them using it.
Dr Pullen is keen to share and learn from the Network, he’s still waiting to get the nod the ‘powers that be’ about whether they can officially join, but I hope it’s a yes as they have some great lessons to share – and the College also does a really good lunch!